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1st Thai Woman Wins Seat on UN International Law Commission

Vilawan Mangklatanakul, director-general of the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs
Vilawan Mangklatanakul, director-general of the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs

Attorney Vilawan Mangklatanakul notched her place in history when she became the first Thai woman ever to be elected to the United Nations’ International Law Commission.

Vilawan, director-general of the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs, was one of 34 members named to the UN panel this month and will serve 2023-2

The government said Vilawan’s election underlines Thailand’s support for the multilateral system underpinned by respect for the rule of law and international cooperation. It also reflects the recognition that Thailand has earned on the world stage, the country’s cordial relations with other UN member states and competence of Thailand’s candidates in the field of international law.

As a member of the International Law Commission, Vilawan will push forward topics of today’s challenges that are of concerns to Thailand and the international community, and thus require legal clarity, namely, treaty making in the digital era, sea-level rise, pandemics and the fair and equitable treatment standard in international investment law.

Moreover, she would like to see the commission work more closely with UN member states in order to be informed of State practice and views so that product of the work of the Commission will be of real practical use.

Four other women from Kenya, Portugal, Turkey and New Zealand also were elected. But, in total, there were only eight female candidates

The milestone marks a new chapter in the history of the Commission, which for the past 74 years has had only seven women members.

Increased women’s participation in the International Law Commission will add diversity and inclusivity in the commission’s perspective as it works to complete its studies and make recommendations for the purpose of the progressive development of international law and its codification.

The total of 34 candidates elected to the Commission are from Cte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Japan, China, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Cyprus, Viet Nam, India, Mongolia, Romania, Latvia, Russia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, United Kingdom, Norway, France, Portugal, Italy, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand.

The International Law Commission was established in 1947 to undertake the mandate of the United Nations General Assembly to initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of the progressive development of international law and its codification, under article 13 (1) (a) of the Charter of the United Nations. The International Law Commission consists of 34 members from 5 regional groups, serving a five-year term.